Life of Leisure (Bah!), My Girl


It’s going horribly, this potty training. Months ago Avelyn mastered the delicate art of peeing in the toilet. “Hurrah!” I exclaimed, “Surely pooping in the toilet can’t be far off!”

I want to sit down with that optimistic version of myself, take her hands gently in mine and tell her that yes, indeed, pooping in the toilet can be VERY far off and that she ought to brace herself for the task of clawing hot turd from soggy princess underwear and demoting a certain kitchen spatula to the title of “Poop Scraper”.

It’s been two months of (sometimes twice) daily pooping in her underwear! Did you catch that? TWO months. And I am at such a loss as to what our next step out to be. See, when Avelyn takes a dump in her gich she knows it’s wrong, but she’ll come up to me with a twisted smirk on her face to announce that she pooped. She thinks it’s kind of funny and I am pretty sure this IS BAD. And the other problem is that even if I make her sit in it, she doesn’t care! She will just keep on playing while a steaming log is mashed between her cheeks. Again, pretty sure this IS BAD too.

Here’s what I’ve tried:

There’s a reward bowl on top of the fridge filled with toys and treats that she can choose from if she poops on the potty. Hasn’t been able to choose one yet.

I bought her a special doll a few months back and told her she could have it when she pooped in the potty. She did it that same day and got the doll. This shows me she can do it when she’s motivated enough, but I am not going to buy her a huge toy everyday.

I have had a stand-off day with here where we didn’t leave the house, we didn’t watch TV, we made her be naked so she’d be less inclined to poop in her undies and more opt to give the potty a whirl. Nothing!

As I’m changing her out of her soiled panties she’ll often say things like, “I should poop on the potty! Now I can’t go to school or ballet” (I’ve told her that if she wants to go to school/ballet she has to be able to poop on the potty like a big girl).

I have tried giving her a time out when she poops in her undies. 

I have tried spanking her when she poops in her undies.

I have tried being nonchalant about it and say, “That’s OK, when you’re ready to be a big girl, I know you can do it!” with a peppy clap.

Basically I am the point where I swing from thinking “This is obviously not working, just forget about it and she’ll go when she’s ready” to “The only option left is to beat her naked rump into submission”. 

Avelyn is a complicated little girl and I am having a hard time figuring her out on this one. 


  • I have had 2 friends with the same issues with their little girls. One of the three year olds would stand there and stare at her mom while pee and poop ran down her leg. I have heard though, that little boys are worse. My brother would not wipe his own butt until he was 6. THAT one will definitely come out to haunt him.

    Kind of like how his left testicle didn’t descend into his scrotum until he was 5. HAHA!!

    There will be a day (maybe far, FAR in the future) when you can look back on this and laugh. Trust me.

  • Oh man! If it isn’t one thing hey. I always heard that boys were harder to toilet train but maybe it is just child by child? I haven’t had to encounter this situation just yet…but from the sounds of it I might have better luck getting our dog to try using the can!

  • Non-chalance + more naked time. We did a whole week of naked time. We had tried weekends before… not effective. Had to be a solid 7 days for her to get the hang of it. A loose / short dress with nothing on bottom worked, too.

    Plus, we put the Elmo potty in the play area. Sometimes, she preferred the big potty and would walk there… but early on, there was more success with poop in Elmo potty. And the Elmo potty was in a “hiding” spot. Sphincter rule … it won’t open when it’s watched. She needed a tiny bit of privacy to poop. We put Elmo potty in a Thomas the Train play tent. She could easily get in there – we could see her through the mesh – but if felt private to her.

    Also… reverse rewards. Periodically check her during the day for “dry checks”. Reward for no poop in underpants (as opposed to rewarding for poop in toilet). That way, the BIG PRIZE timing is determined by you. Plus, it’s hysterical when they turn their butt to you and say, “CHECK ME, PLEEEEEASE”.

    I think it is now a control issue. You might just have to wait it out. Or read this:

  • I’m so there with you. My only saving grace is that 90% of those 2-a-day poops happen at daycare for M and it is their choice to not use pull-ups. But I still have to wash it -yuck (and I cloth diapered until she was nearly 2…somehow this is way worse). We’ve gone through all the same stages you have with no luck- including making her help clean up the messes she makes. Now on the weekends we have started making her wear pull-ups until she either 1)poops on the potty or 2)poops in her pants.

    I thought we had a breakthrough last weekend when she made it to the potty twice, but no…none since then. She also has pricness underware and will tell me “I pooped on Cinderella – can you change me?” Ugh

    I also learned the other day that she has figured out how to pee on demand. We were having a stand-off a the dinner table and I told her she could’t leave her chair…she got a concentrated look, the smiled and said “mama, I go pee!” and sure enough, she had filled her booster seat with urine. She’s crafty that one.

  • delurking to comisserate with no advice…(sorry, I know thats not what youre looking for!)
    also have 3 year old quite content on crapping the princess panties. nothings has worked. everything on your list has been tried.
    oh, I do make her scrub her own undies though…(after the CHUNKS are removed). but she likes it. …the hell?
    looking forward to hearing some success stories!

  • I totally agree with the reverse reward system. That worked for both of my kids. It also made me feel better because I wasn’t always saying “you can’t, you can’t, you can’t”. It was nice to say, “hey! you’ve been clean and dry for a whole 10 minutes! way to go!” Our treat of choice was real fruit gummies. I’m serious about the 10 minute thing. I set the timer. After a few days it increased to 15 minutes, then 20, then 30 etc. It still took weeks. Nothing happens in one day like those oh so funny book say. One day! ho ho ho, ha, ha, ha,hee, hee, hee,snort, sigh.

  • I’m with Chasinash- naked time + not caring. If she’s naked there won’t be a place to go (although knowing Avelyn she’ll probably just go in the corner- what’s worse, cleaning underwear or cleaning poop out of the carpet??). It worked for us (our girl is just a few months older than Avelyn).

    Best of luck.

  • Oh man, some kids just GET IT hey? They know exactly how to own it!
    Obviously the doll thing worked – maybe take the doll away on days she doesn’t poop on the toilet? Or maybe you’ve tried that. And maybe more naked days…Even though you feel like you’ve tried everything, there still HAS to be a solution! Keep trying! Even if trying means acting like you don’t care, something will eventually turn around. I assure you she won’t poop in her pants when she’s 4 or 5 years old. :D How’s that for comfort??? Haha… best of luck! :)

  • Hmmm, here’s what worked for us: my girls got 1 M&M or skittle for peeing and 2-3 for pooping. After a time, peeing was no prob, but they were still having pooping accidents. So then we switched to something they loved loved loved- Dora tatoos. They got one everytime they pooped on the potty. We had to do that for about 3 weeks, and they were covered, but it worked.

    Perhaps start rewarding her with a tiny treat (like 1 m&m) for peeing, so that the focus is on what she IS doing. Tell her she can have, say FIVE or TEN or whatever number would seem HUGE to her, when she poops. Maybe? Maybe with tiny little doses of a sweet treat for peeing, she’ll be more motivated for the Big Kahuna? I mean, WHO is satisfied with just one M&M? I’m telling you that _I_ would certainly poop for another. =)

    That’s my only idea/assvice. Hope it resolves soon!

  • Our babysitter, who has been training kids for 35 years, walked us through what to do and it worked–at least on my daughter. (I have a little boy who’s 21 months younger and different in every way, so who knows how it will go with him!)

    Here was her advice to us, on potty-training in general:
    – Back completely off for a time (we had been trying and getting frustrated). Don’t try again until she really shows an interest
    – When she’s interested, start her in pull-ups.
    – If she poops in her pull-up (day-time only), then put her back in a regular diaper. My babysitter would call it a BABY DIAPER. She also had the rule, that when wearing the baby diaper, she could only play with baby toys not “big girl” toys like puzzles and electronic games. THis seems harsh, but it was really, really effective.
    – Every time she goes in the toilet, make a BIG fuss of joy. Bring the whole family in on it and anyone who stops by. (TMI probably but again, really helpful in positive reinforcement)
    – When she’s able to go a day or two without pooping her pull-up set up a star chart. If she can go 7 days straight with no poop in the pull-up, then she can graduate to big-girl underwear. (Except at night, when she still wears what we call a “nighttime diaper” or pull-up. (The only difference between the “baby diaper” and the “nighttime diaper” is the brand–one is Mickey Mouse and one is Elmo.)
    – Speaking of Elmo, the Elmo Potty Time video is really good (if she likes Elmo).

    Whew! Are you sorry you asked for advice now? ;-)

    Good luck! You and Avelyn will figure it out one way or another. :-)

  • Love Kirsten’s sitter’s advice! Avelyn reminds of a little girl I knew about 26 years ago. She was 18 months old and potty-trained perfectly. She was also an only child for those entire 18 months. It was a good life. Then, her mother had the audacity to bring another child into this girl’s perfect world. Little Katie forgot how to use the potty – and remained ignorant of the appliance’s use for another 9 months. Not saying Avelyn is this way, but I still get frustrated when my brother interrupts me! :) I’ll be praying for you – both!

  • Delurking to say – I’m so sorry. It does eventually get better, but it takes a sweet forever to get there.

    My daughter would do 4-5 mini-poops in her underwear EVERY DAY. For SEVERAL MONTHS. Like maybe six months – I’ve kind of blocked it out because it was so horrible.

    Finally, we switched her prize chart – instead of a sticker for a poop in the potty, she got one for going a whole day with no poop in her unders. At first she got a prize for each day, then she had to make it two days, then three… The prizes were kind of big – stuff for her dollhouse that was probably $8-10 each – but by that point, I just DID NOT CARE about the money. That was what motivated her, so that was what we got her.

    And really, it was a small price to pay for my sanity.

    After a month, she was accident free. Good luck!!!

  • I have to second the Elmo’s Potty Time DVD. It just “clicked” with my daughter lately that if she stays dry she gets to wear Big Girl Underwear like Prairie Dawn. She had an accident yesterday and was very upset at herself, so maybe A needs to get to that point where she minds the mess?

  • I don’t have any advice because I’m in the same boat. He can do pees on the toilet but not poops. We have given up for a while and now we are trying the “Three Year Old’s Don’t Wear Diapers – EVER (**except @ night)” trial. I think I might set up a sticker chart or something, as well.

    I’m feeling a bit of pressure because H starts preschool in Sept and he’s supposed to be potty-trained. Everyone keeps telling me to relax…that’ll he’ll get it when he’s ready.

    All I can say to you is: Good LUCK!

  • Amanda, Lorelei just became potty trained a month ago and she will be four in August. I finally had to break down and take her diaper away and let her pee/poop herself a few times. She hated it. When she pooped on the potty we celebrated by going to Wal-Mart and I let her pick out two packages of pretty “big girl” panties. There’s no way she wants to soil those panties with poop. Maybe Avelyn isn’t ready yet. Training Lorelei was frustrating until I realized she just wasn’t ready to do it yet. However, I did keep reminding her she couldn’t go to the beach in a bathing suit unless she was potty trained, or swim in her daycare lady’s pool. Let her hang out with a few kids who are potty trained, trust me, if she poops her pants/diaper around trained kids, they will mock her into using the potty. Peer pressure can be a positive thing sometimes….Hugs

  • We are in the same boat – I don’t want these kids to grow up to quickly but I’m secretly counting down the number of bum wipes until we are diaper/pull up/gooey panty free. I will then rejoice, however at the rate we’re going Corey’ll probably be in diapers by then, but he’s been warned – I do NOT wipe wrinkly old man butts, he’ll have to hire someone for that! Haha, I kid (sort of).

    Anyways, let us know how the battle goes and if any of the wonderful advice above is effective! If one more person tells me it just takes time I’m going to fling some poo at them!

  • I am eagerly pilfering your comments for advice because we too are having horrible POOP problems with Amy who turned 3 on Monday. Her issues are that she doesn’t like pooping in the toilet, she says it scares her and she is afraid of her poop. As a result she begs for a nappy to poop in if she is naked or in pants or just poops at night in her sleep in her nappy. We too discuss all the time how she can’t go to school or dancing (starts in two weeks – sigh) unless she is a big girl and poops in the toilet. She just tells me she doesn’t want to be a big girl and would rather be a baby. Avelyn sounds very similar to Amy, far too clever for her own good. All I can do right now is chant “this too shall pass” and scour the internet for advice!

  • Yep, my kid is not afraid to poop, will happily do it in his pants. Who cares about keeping big boy underwear clean. We are only just getting somewhere now at age 3.5 because he’s going to JK in September and I told him he can’t go if he’s not toilet trained. Because I am evil. And totally desperate. And feeling like a failure. (we’ve been working on this for over a year!!)

  • OHHHHH this is so my entire summer last yr. with Luke!! I tried being calm, I tried spanking, I tried rewards and on & on….
    And then one day it stopped much to my surprise…
    I’m not sure what to say just hang in there… I think it’s bad if she’s still doing this at 15 ;) or maybe even just @ 5 ;)

  • my girl turned 3 in april…and finally started full time in panties in june. she is very smart, but it took about 18 months of trying to get her to go. even my mother, who potty trained 4 children of her own AND ran a day care, was at a loss. we had a hundred dollar vanity sitting in its box in the living room for months, waiting to be her reward. she finally decided, of her own volition, that she was ready. started wearing panties that day, and has had only a handful of accidents. But when she does it on purpose, I tell her, fine, no problem, go back to diapers, but i am taking back the vanity. It works every time.
    of course, avelyn is your daughter, and you guys have to do what works for you. and maybe if you did put her back in diapers, it would be a couple of months before she decided to train again. Just be assured that no matter WHAT happens, she will EVENTUALLY train. I promise.

  • Hey Amanda,

    I wanted to say that I have a cool give away going on my blog until tomorrow. I know you don’t have baby babies but I think you could still use it (#3!?) or gift it!

    I have heard about the naked bottom thing as a good tool. I guess summer time is a perfect time to do this. I know Dr. Sears website talks about some tips with this.

    Good luck with it all!!

  • I know Amanda that you already have 21 comments and you may decide to quit reading them but don’t.
    Click the link I will provide. I’ll bet it will change your life.
    Good luck.
    Jens Mom

  • My cousins little girl locked my cousin outside and then squatted on the carpet and pooped…while her mom watched in horror through the patio doors. She’s 2 1/2.

    I’m sorry this is so frustrating for you! Just think of the wonderful stories you can share with Avelyn when she’s pulling her hair out with her daughter.

    Hang in there.

  • Oh, I feel so bad for you!! Yet your way of describing all this is hilarious. Of course I am sure you are close to the point of insanity… and I am so scared… I can’t imagine trying to potty train my son, he is just as strong-willed as your daughter. Yikes! It will happen eventually. As my mom always says, regardless of how hard it might seem, she will do it eventually, because really, how many big kids do you see pooping their pants? That always makes me feel a little bit better.

  • All I can say is “bummer”! I hope it happens soon.

  • A “therapeutic” option you could try is to externalize/personify the poop. Stay with me here, I know this is a weird idea. You can name the poo something, therapists in the past have used “Sneaky Poo” and talked with kids about how Sneaky Poo impacts them, and others. When SNeaky Poo comes around, if it wrecks anything, etc. You then talk about times where the child gets the best of SNeaky Poo “How did you trick that Sneaky Poo by putting it in the toilet? How did you know to flush him away today? You must be really smart, strong, creative” etc. You’re basically working along two story lines, the one where Sneaky Poo has all the power, outlining that, making it really clear and EXTERNAL to your child, and working at developing another story, where you child has aligned him/herself to become stronger than that darn SneakyPoo, and feels empowered, rather than getting into a power struggle with you, or feeling ashamed when they truly do have accidents. Just a thought. May not work. You’d need to decide if Avelyn would developmentally “get it”, though usually kids are able to use their imagination quite well. You could even have her choose the name for this problem that keeps coming around…
    This idea is based on Michael White’s work with Narrative Therapy if you wanted to look up more about it.

  • Bless your heart this is just not easy. My oldest was the same. Pee in the potty? No problem! Poop in it? Uh, no thank you.

    She was apparently afraid of splashing or something. We had to lay pieces of toilet paper across the top of the water at first for her to do that in the potty. I do not even remember how many months it took us to figure out the ‘why’ and solve it. It was a while, though. She wouldn’t go in her panties, though. She would come with a diaper and beg us to put it on her because she had to go.

  • One of our girls (the same age TO THE DAY as Avelyn) is nearly as stubborn…
    She too has been peeing like a racehorse on that pot, but the pooping is a bit stalled.
    Noelle still wears a diaper to bed, and saves up alllll her poop for bedtime (yay me). We make her sit on the toilet before changing her into her diaper for bed. She’ll refuse to go poop. As soon as that diaper is on, she craps.
    Two nights ago, I made her change herself. I hauled her into the bathroom, moved the rug off the floor, handed her the wipes, and told her I was done. That she needed to figure out how to get that poop out of the diaper and into the potty where it belonged. She was pretty miffed that I wasnt going to change her. She then got sad, and pretty remorseful…
    I’m not sure if it actually worked, but she’s pooped on the potty twice. And we’ve talked alot about not wanting to clean up poopy diapers.
    That’s my opinion. :)

  • I had the same problem. I did lots of fiber, nakedness and NO TREATS whatsoever (with a big bowl of reward treats) until the deed was done. Repeatedly.

    Beyond frustrating. But happily, not never-ending (although right now I’m sure it seems it).

  • I haven’t read through all of the comments, but here goes.

    It took us a year to train our son. We we got him (adopted from Russia at age 22 months) the told us he was potty trained. Knowing that we would have almost 40 hours of travel to get him home and a huge transition for him all the while we decided to put him back in diapers. After a few months home he started taking a serious interest in the potty. So we started trying to train him. This is when we found out that he actually had a serious fear of toilets. We stopped. Few months later fear got less so we tried again. No luck. Repeat repeat repeat.

    Finally, we enrolled him in preschool and he needed to be potty trained. He started peeing in the toilet (he’s never used a separate potty chair) and he did so standing up (hint to all moms of boys, start them standing at the start and it’s soooo much easier). However, poo was a horrible battle. Preschool let me enroll him anyway as long as I was still at the church to change him if he had an accident. It took 3 months for him to get it right.

    What worked? A timer. In the orphanage they were put on the pot at specific intervals. They had to sit there until they did their business. My less cruel method was set the timer for 15 minutes and then say it was time to try. He, for the most part, willingly did so. As he got better at going we increased the time interval until he knew how to do it.

    Other things that helped (we didn’t use a physical reward system at all) were having a stool by each toilet so he could put his feet on something, not using a separate potty chair, but using one that attaches to the toilet to make the opening smaller and less scary and lots and lots of patience.

    In our case it was a matter of he did it when he was ready. Can’t force the issue on this one.

  • Since she is motivated by rewards, I would try an incentive chart you can hang in her room. It’s basically posterboard with little boxes. You can get them at WalMart, or a teacher supply store. A drug store might even have them. Then, every time she goes poop in the potty let her put the sticker on the chart. You can reward her with larger gifts/rewards after she earns a certain amount of stickers. I would reward her with non-material things…like special time with mommy or a big girl activity. Hope this helps!

  • if you go naked for a week, you can come to my house and she can poop on my floor.

  • Hello! I have no idea if this will help or not, but a friend of mine sends me entries from your blog occasionally because according to her, it appears we have male and female versions of the same child! My son is the same age as Avelyn and trained a few months ago. The pee came fairly quickly, and the pooping not so much. Not quite as long as two months, but it still was very frustrating! He knew what he was supposed to do, but flat out refused to do it, because he likes the world to play by his rules, not the other way around. What eventually worked for me was the same thing that worked for getting him in underwear in the first place, which is a timer. I saw somebody else mentioned that as well. He does not like when I tell him what to do, and while he is motivated by rewards, etc., it is usually not enough to actually change his behavior. I tried everything you said you had tried and started to feel like I was desperate and begging, but he didn’t respond to anything. But for whatever reason, he does respond to a timer. He can fight and argue with me, but not with a timer. So first I stopped putting pressure on him and making him feel bad. I just started to almost ignore accidents. I would just clean him up and send him on his way with a little “Maybe next time.” Then when I saw him needing to go, or I knew it had been a while, I would set a timer and tell him he had to sit on the potty until the timer beeped. He would fight and want to get off but I told him he had to wait for the timer. I would set it for a few minutes and praise him and reward him for trying even if he didn’t go. Eventually, he had to go so bad that he couldn’t not go while he was sitting there waiting for the timer. Once he did it a couple times, he was on board and we have never had a problem since. Like I said, it works for him. I don’t know if it would work for you, but I hope so! If Avelyn is really a “female version” of my son, I know it isn’t easy!!! Good luck!!

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